For its ten year anniversary, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York showed ten Austrian films released between 2002 and 2012.
In the last few years, Austrian cinema has enjoyed extraordinary international success. As a festival of Austrian cinema, Diagonale is frequently asked to introduce films and to provide an overview of domestic cinema. We see ourselves as a platform for Austrian cinema – not only during the festival week, but throughout the year, be it via domestic events or with a number of partners abroad.
Diagonale and Anthology Film Archives New York were asked by the Austrian Cultural Forum to collaborate and offer a selection which would connect our own perception of Austrian cinema with an outside perspective.
Anthology Film Archives was a perfect partner for this project. Conceived as a center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video in 1969, the Archives are a place where film is taken seriously and regarded as an artform. There were other links: Peter Kubelka, a prominent figure who helped shape Austrian avantgarde cinema, was a co-founder of the Archives, and Raimund Abraham was not only the architect of the ACFNY, but also designed the current home of the Anthology Film Archives at the Second Avenue Courthouse, which opened in 1988.
We did not want to assemble the film series according to the conventional patterns of a top-ten list, which have always seemed dubious to us in their canonical approach. Instead, we saw it as a dialogue and, despite the unavoidable incompleteness, as an attempt to emphasize important moments and defining attitudes of Austrian film between 2002 and 2012.
Upon the ACFNY's suggestion, we narrowed our selection down by limiting ourselves to feature films which had already been shown in the United States, either in theaters or at festivals. Despite this specification, we still had a rather expansive list of about 100 titles to work with, which attests to the enormous international perception of Austrian film.
The explicit stances of auteur cinema were to stand on equal footing with documentary features, various formal and aesthetic forms of expression had to be represented as much as experimental films, which play such an important role in cinema. The first step was thus to condense the list of titles to 30 – a task that fell to Diagonale – and to subsequently have it cut in half by the two curators, Jed Rapfogel and John Mhiripiri. All films and the series' overall concept were discussed again via e-mail and in personal meetings, before the Anthology Film Archives made the final selection.
At the end of this highly interesting discursive process were ten extraordinary films, each of which spoke for itself, but, at the same time, provided an impression of how diverse Austrian cinema can be and how many possibilities of cinematic story-telling there are:
1. Film Ist. 7-12 (Gustav Deutsch, 2002)
2. Wolff von Amerongen: Did He Commit Bankruptcy Offences? (Gerhard Friedl, 2004)
3. Babooska (Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel, 2005)
4. Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005)
5. Workingman's Death (Michael Glawogger, 2005)
6. Zorros Bar Mizwa (Ruth Beckermann, 2006)
7. Import/Export (Ulrich Seidl, 2007)
8. Revanche (Götz Spielmann, 2008)
9. White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
10. Lourdes (Jessica Hausner, 2009)